Community Health Worker Training Program

This innovative program is increasing the number of highly skilled community health workers in underserved communities in New York City by partnering closely with local health care organizations to recruit, train, and support workers who are from the same communities as the people they serve.

The COVID epidemic strained an already taxed public health system, including by exacerbating existing workforce shortages and increasing the obstacles members of marginalized communities face when trying to access care. At the same time, people who were already distrustful of health systems were given further reasons to doubt already taxed public and private health systems.

In response to this public health crisis, in 2022, the federal government invested more than $1 billion to build and strengthen the nation’s community health workforce, increase access to care, and address the public health needs of underserved communities. CAI’s Community Health Worker Training Program is part of this national effort.

The initiative

CAI is working with federally qualified health centers, community-based organizations, and harm-reduction centers in the Bronx, Upper and Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens to recruit and train community health workers who live in their service area. After completing the program, workers will either be employed by the organization that trained them or get job-placement support to help them find employment with another organization in the community.

An important feature of the program is its emphasis on providing a blended-learning experience—alternating classroom instruction and on-the-job training—rather than the more traditional approach that requires attending a tuition-based course before field placement.

The program was designed to train people who are not in college and not planning to go to college, who may have had a negative experience in previous classroom settings. To support their success, CAI is using a strengths-based approach based on adult-learning principles to create a learning environment in which these learners can thrive.

In addition, participants are supported with mentoring, job-readiness coaching, financial assistance, and other wraparound services to help them address the social determinants of health, such as systemic poverty and structural racism, that they may be facing. Staff from partner agencies who are working alongside trainees will also receive support and technical assistance.

Eligible trainees earn the opportunity to participate in paid community health worker apprenticeships after completing the training, increasing the number of skilled health workers in the most socially and historically marginalized communities of New York City.

The impact

The Community Health Worker Training Project will serve as a pipeline, recruiting and training new community health workers to work in the organizations that trained them and serve in the communities where they live.

Over a three-year period, 200 new community health workers will be trained and certified by the State of New York. Forty-five trainees will have the opportunity to become apprentices through a New York State Department of Labor–approved apprenticeship program. These highly skilled workers will play a critical role on interprofessional public health teams, which comprise physicians, nurses, medical assistants, care coordinators and operations managers. They will serve as trusted messengers and advocates and help clinical providers meet the non-medical needs that affect patients’ health.

View information and applications for upcoming cohorts.

Project funder and key partners

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)

Leadership and contact

Rama Murali, Project Director:


This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,000,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit